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Fish Camp: Part II - The Journey

It has been said, "Getting there is half the fun, Being there is all of it." ~ Honestly...I will get to actual "Fish Camp" stories but wanted to help "set the scene" first.  The dynamics of this trip truly began with the invitation and continued to build with each passing mile that brought us closer to our final destination and ultimate experience. Also, as a "rest assured" to the wonderful people who were a part of this trip...not to worry, I won't be telling any stories where "the names have to be changed to protect the innocent" and as John 21:25 states: "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written."  Therefore, I too, will not be telling every incident...just those that warmed this mother's heart as she watched from the side line of her children's awesome experience.  Enjoy~ Shannon


International Bridge - Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
PART II:  The Journey  
Our caravan consisted of "Brother Brian" in the lead accompanied by Tom and our son, Hunter, Jerry followed carrying Dad, Ethan and I, while Dan and Denton brought up the rear.  It was a spectacular day and we enjoyed the beautiful view as we crossed the majestic Mackinac Bridge which never ceases to fill me with awe. I always love seeing barges marching their way across the straits and looking over and seeing the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island standing out at stately as ever--A site that never grows old. Breakfast came on "this side of the other bridge" --The International Bridge--at "The Studebaker"...good breakfast and plenty of it.  Watching our two boys hover in the shadow of their new fishing idols, I was glad to see them sprout their independent wings as they trapezed over to a table with G'pa and Tom to sit with and order by themselves.  I sat at a table next to my brother and across from my new chauffeur, Jerry and caravan mates, Dan and Denton.  It was with a heart full of gratitude as I watched my sons--without being told--remove their hats as the blessing for their food was said. With my brother as a current youth pastor, Tom, a recently retired youth pastor, and the rest of our crew members of Brian's church, I knew this trip would be more than just a fishing trip but one filled with life long lessons that the boys would carry with them forever.

Keeping my coffee refill intake to a minimum, :-) it was time to cross the border.  While both boys wanted more than anything to ride with Uncle Brian and Mr. Tom, previous international bridge crossing experience told us that it would meet better if they were together in the same vehicle with me.  So with passports, enhanced driver's license and birth certificates in hand, we headed for yet another first in our boys young lives...a visit to another country! 

"Par le vous, Francais?" No...but we're glad to be in Canada!  We passed through easily and headed to the Canadian Welcome Center to obtain the appropriate fishing licenses.  Ironically, here is a little side note insert "ah ha" moment...you see, God and I have this "Butterfly Sighting" thing going on...almost like an "eye-spy" game that always fills me with reassurance and hope that God is indeed in control of every aspect of our lives.  A smile crossed my face when I entered the building and ... you guessed it...there was an array of "floating butterflies" above the Welcome Desk...."thanks, God!"  Still trying to swallow some of my "what am I doing here" bewilderment, I followed my dad and Jerry to "The Counter" to purchase my first ever..."Fishing License."  With all the bravado and swagger of a been there/done that angler, I placed my elbow on the counter and said, "I'd like an 8-Day Conservation License, please". --So glad I had listened to the ones before me--I had no clue what it meant but knew it would allow me to legally be in a boat with my boys and even hold a fishing pole if I so chose. 

So...now in the other Sault St. Marie...the caravan of trucks/boats again loaded up.  This time the boys ran pel mel to Uncle Brain's truck and hopped it.  I found myself actually dozing as the miles of civilization began to change from city to rural to awe inspiring raw beauty. I found myself actually thinking, "This is fun..."

A short stop later just before the 200 kilometer mark to Chapleau, Canada sign found Jerry remarking he was ready for a nap. I offered my driving prowess and slid behind the wheel of this massive ride pulling a boat and headed out keeping my eyes peeled to the back end of a "60-horse Johnson motor" on Brian's boat in front of me. Where it went, I went.  The scenery was spectacular what with a desolate, winding road sandwiched between a crystal clear sparkling river on one side and beautiful evergreen covered rock cliffs on the other.  I could feel my camera finger twitching but I didn't dare take my eyes off the road and only stole a quick glimpse here and there.

After Jerry took a short snooze, it was shortly thereafter that the first of many fun "male/female" moments began.  As the entrusted care taker of my father's 3x's a day medication, my mother had methodically dispensed each dose into a snack zip lock bag with morning/afternoon/evening clearly written on the bag.  I in my nursing wisdom made sure that the Saturday afternoon bag was in my purse rather than in the pile of "I have no idea what is all back there but I'm sure we'll need it sometime during this trip" realized it was "pill time" while I was driving.  No problem...I asked Dad to reach into my purse and simply pull out the bag. 

Now...this is not the first time that I have met with A.) The look of mystery of what exactly do women carry in their purses? and B). How does one go about swirling everything around in order to find the intended item?  After hysterical fits of "Ouch! I just got bit by a purse rat" and "I can't find it", I asked for my purse to be set next to me so I could do the "woman feel" thing--unfortunately, my purse is not one of those with the neat dividers but rather has one big opening that truly ends up being like a big black hole where things land in the sea of abyss--With my left hand on the wheel, my eyes peeled to the twists and turns in front of me, I started to do what, in hindsight, should be a ticketed stop much like texting--reached my right hand in and felt through thecontents. My fingers landing on things like my lipstick holder--like I really think I'll need that this trip--, cell phone, extra contact solution, coupon holder--won't be needing that either--and so on. Finally, with a "better keep both hands on the wheel" know better...I then handed my purse over to my newest close personal friend, Jerry, who was sitting in the front seat and said, "Could you try?" All the while watching the clock tick past the magic 2:00pm pill time.  Ack...I was failing my first responsible trip given job!

The next five minutes would have been classic "Funniest Home Video" material...give your purse to a complete stranger and say, "Take a look!" I'm sure it was worth $10,000.  With the stealth of a fingerprint detective, bless his heart, Jerry proceeded to pull out everything that even resembled a plastic bag--can't believe I brought my Bob Evan's/Cracker Barrel gift certificates with me--what was I thinking?  And oops, my purse really had become my last carry-on source of "for whatever might arise emergency I could think of"--my mother has been known to fix cars with the contents of her purse and hey...you never know when you will find yourself in one of those "Price is Right/Come on Down" situations were you can earn great prizes with the things found in your purse. With tears literally streaming down my face at each new amazing purse filled discovery--yet no magic pill bag produced--I finally through fits of hysterical laughter said, "Enough!" We realized that from the back seat where Dad was sitting that he could reach the carefully packed pill bag and pull out the extra next Saturday's afternoon pills that mom had packed just in case we stayed longer. Whew...crisis adverted. Funny thing is...wouldn't you know...a few hours later when we pulled into a "Trading Post" for a cup of coffee I opened my purse, took a look around and found the elusive missing bag in less than 10 seconds. :-)

Which leads me to another fun "him/her" moment...stopping at the Trading Post was my first "Ah Ha...life in the female lane on an all male fishing trip might not be so bad" when I, for what seemed like the first time in my life, walked right into the line-less ladies room.  I silently give a "high five" to my fellow members of the sisterhood who have waited in restroom lines all their lives who would totally understood the funny elation of a moment like this.  In addition, while walking around this fine "in the middle of no where" shopping mecca, I enjoyed another butterfly moment... locating a small one on a necklace package...right there in the middle of camouflage flanked clothing, fish bait and Canadian Souvenirs. God...you certainly have a wonderful sense of humor!


Our Caravan
Watching the kilometers tick down 20 at a time...by 4:00pmish, I saw a sign that said, "Welcome to Chapleau". (I understand the population is something like 2700 with 18 bears/square mile of what is known as the world's largest wildlife preserve. :-)  I smiled to myself as I also saw for the first time the "KFC & Pizza Hut" that had long been hinted at by the signs along the road...a gas station and a connecting small side store, one counter two ordering menus for...you guessed it, KFC and Pizza Hut. Welcome to remote Canada!  It was then that I also found out that the Uncle Brian's truck I had been following so religiously had actually been driven by Tom and his three sleeping passengers...Brian, Ethan and Hunter.  So much for "fish bench racing" along the way!

It was decided that given the time of day, it might be better to grab a bite to eat now before heading into the last leg of our a journey...a 17 mile dirt washboard road that led to "Fish Camp."  With Chicken or Pizza on the menu, I took what I thought was my last bite of "civilian food" and enjoyed each morsel.  By now, Jerry was ready to retake the wheel and I gladly slide into the back seat to view this new wilderness of that would be called home for the next seven days.

The road from Chapleau to Lake Racine